John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (1902-1968) won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception.
In accepting Steinbeck said: the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit—for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
The acceptance points directly to the points of criticism that many expressed. Swedish newspapers said the award was "one of the Academy's biggest mistakes.” The New York Times referred to his books as “watered down by tenth-rate philosophizing.”
Steinbeck said of writing that “to write well about something you had to either love it or hate it very much, and that in a sense was a mirror of his own personality.”
His first financial success was with the writing of Tortilla Flat in 1935. Before that he made his living as a carpenter, ranch hand, factory laborer, sales clerk, caretaker and reporter, and was also given financial assistance by his father in the hope that he would develop his craft.